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An Election Protection Agenda for 2016

8:59 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

An Election Protection Agenda for 2016
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
November 9, 2012

A mass grassroots election protection movement has been born. It’s finally forced the issues of mass disenfranchisement and hackable electronic voting machines into the mainstream.

And it’s emerged from this election with a must-do list of things that need to be accomplished—soon—if we are to retain any shreds of American democracy.

Meanwhile the flaws in our system allowed the theft of the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, and threatened to do it again this year. They’ve allowed the theft of countless other races for Congress, governorships, state offices, judgeships, referenda and more.

This cuts to the core of our democracy process. But as we’ve seen so many times before, we can change all this.  Here’s a partial list:

• Money out of politics: Corporations are not people, money is not speech. We cannot afford a system of “one dollar, one vote.” Citizens United must be overturned and workable limits placed on campaign spending. This will require a Constitutional amendment. Move to Amend (www.movetoamend.org) is working on it, and needs our support.

• The Electoral College: This useless anachronism was meant to empower slaveowners through the 3/5 bonus granted for their slaves. It has allowed the theft of elections in 1800, 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000. It’s time the candidate who gets the most votes actually wins. It will require a Constitutional amendment. But the Electoral College has repeatedly flunked the test of time, and must be abolished.

• A guaranteed right to vote: Nowhere in the Constitution does it say all American citizens are guaranteed the right to vote. It must.

• Universal automatic voter registration: All US citizens should be automatically registered at the age of 18. Forms should be sent in the mail and made readily available at schools, motor vehicle bureaus and elsewhere. Only a signature should be necessary to then get a ballot and vote. This will have to be won on a state-by-state basis.

• Universal hand-counted paper ballots: Germany, Japan, Canada, Switzerland and Sweden stage their elections entirely on hand-counted paper ballots. Electronic voting machines are perfectly designed to steal elections. Ireland has just thrown out its voting machines and moved to paper ballots. We must do the same. This will also have to be won on a state-by-state basis.

• A four-day weekend for voting: The first Saturday-Sunday-Monday-Tuesday in November should constitute a national holiday for voting. High school and college students should be given credit for working the polls and counting the ballots. Early voting in general should be expanded, as long as it’s done in person and not over the internet or by smartphone.

• Washington DC wants to become a state. It’s long overdue. DC has more people than Wyoming and Vermont. It deserves full representation in Congress and the rest of our government. This will have to be done over the vehement opposition of the Republican Party. The option should also be available to Puerto Rico if it wants.

Winning all this will require the usual blood, sweat and tears of a long, hard national grassroots campaign. Since Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, we have made great strides in exposing the corrupt nature of an all-too-vulnerable electoral system.

But the hard work has just begun. If we are to live in a democracy, we have no choice but to win.

So let’s do it!

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Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman has co-authored five books on election protection. To sign on to the election protection movement, see us atfreepress.org

Will H.I.G.-Owned E-Voting Machines Give Romney the White House?

1:00 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

Will H.I.G.-owned e-voting machines give Romney the White House?
by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
October 12, 2012

Electronic voting machines owned by Mitt Romney’s business buddies and set to count the votes in Cincinnati could decide the 2012 election.

The narrative is already being hyped by the corporate media. As Kelly O’Donnell reported for NBC’s Today Show on Monday, October 8, Ohio’s Hamilton County is “ground zero” for deciding who holds the White House come January, 2013.

O’Donnell pointed out that no candidate has won the White House without carrying Ohio since John Kennedy did it in 1960. No Republican has EVER won the White House without Ohio’s electoral votes.

As we document in the e-book WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION (www.freepress.org) George W. Bush got a second term in 2004 thanks to the manipulation of the electronic vote count by Ohio’s then-Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell served as the co-chair of the state’s committee to re-elect Bush/Cheney while simultaneously administering the election.

The widespread use of electronic voting machines from ES&S, and of Diebold software maintained by Triad, allowed Blackwell to electronically flip a 4% Kerry lead to a 2% Bush victory in the dead of election night. ES&S, Diebold and Triad were all owned or operated by Republican partisans. The shift of more than 300,000 votes after 12:20 am election night was a virtual statistical impossibility. It was engineered by Michael Connell, an IT specialist long affiliated with the Bush Family. Blackwell gave Connell’s Ohio-based GovTech the contract to count Ohio’s votes, which was done on servers housed in the Old Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thus the Ohio vote tally was done on servers that also carried the e-mail for Karl Rove and the national Republican Party. Connell died in a mysterious plane crash in December, 2008, after being subpoenaed in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit focused on how the 2004 election was decided (disclosure: we were attorney and plaintiff in that suit).

Diebold’s founder, Walden O’Dell, had vowed to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes—and thus the presidency—to his friend George W. Bush. That it was done in part on electronic voting machines and software O’Dell happened to own (Diebold has since changed hands twice) remains a cautionary red flag for those who believe merely winning the popular vote will give Barack Obama a second term.

This November, much of the Ohio electorate will cast its ballots on machines again owned by close cronies of the Republican presidential candidate. In Cincinnati and elsewhere around the state, the e-voting apparati are owned by Hart Intercivic. Hart’s machines are infamous for mechanical failures, “glitches,” counting errors and other timely problems now thoroughly identified with the way Republicans steal elections. As in 2004, Ohio’s governor is now a Republican. This time it’s the very right-wing John Kasich, himself a multi-millionaire courtesy of a stint at Lehman Brothers selling state bonds, and the largesse of Rupert Murdoch, on whose Fox Network Kasich served as a late night bloviator. Murdoch wrote Kasich a game-changing $1 million check just prior to his winning the statehouse, an electoral victory shrouded in electronic intrigue. The exit polls in that election indicated that his opponent, incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland, had actually won the popular vote.

Ohio’s very Republican Secretary of State is John Husted, currently suing in the US Supreme Court to prevent the public from voting on the weekend prior to election day. As did Blackwell and Governor Robert Taft in 2004, Husted and Kasich will control Ohio’s electronic vote count on election night free of meaningful public checks or balances

Hart Intercivic, on whose machines the key votes will be cast in Hamilton County, which includes Cincinnati, was taken over last year by H.I.G. Capital. Prominent partners and directors on the H.I.G. board hail from Bain Company or Bain Capital, both connected to Mitt Romney. H.I.G. employees have contributed at least $338,000 to Romney’s campaign. H.I.G. Directors John P. Bolduk and Douglas Berman are major Romney fundraisers, as is former Bain and H.I.G. manager Brian Shortsleeve.

US courts have consistently ruled that the software in electronic voting machines is proprietary to the manufacturer, even though individual election boards may own the actual machines. Thus there will be no vote count transparency on election night in Ohio. The tally will be conducted by Hart Intercivic and controlled by Husted and Kasich, with no public recourse or accountability. As federal testimony from the deceased Michael Connell made clear in 2008, electronically flipping an election is relatively cheap and easy to do, especially if you or your compatriots programmed the machines.

So as the corporate media swarm through Ohio, reporting breathlessly from “ground zero” in Cincinnati, don’t hold your own breath waiting for them to also clarify that the voting machines in what may once again be America’s decisive swing state are owned, programmed and tabulated by some of the Romney campaign’s closest associates.


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION?, an e-book.

Will 9 GOP Governors Electronically Flip Romney into the White House?

10:52 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

Nine Republican governors have the power to put Mitt Romney in the White House, even if Barack Obama wins the popular vote.

Mitt Romney Caricature

Image: Donkey Hotey / Flickr

With their secretaries of state, they control the electronic vote count in nine key swing states: Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Arizona, and New Mexico. Wisconsin elections are under the control of the state’s Government Accountability Board, appointed by the governor.

In tandem with the GOP’s massive nation-wide disenfranchisement campaign, they could—in the dead of election night—flip their states’ electronic votes to Romney and give him a victory in the Electoral College.

Thankfully, resistance has arisen to the disenfranchisement strategy, which seems designed to deny millions of suspected Democrats the right to vote. The intent to demand photo ID for voting could result in some ten million Americans being disenfranchised, according to the Brennan Center at New York University. Other methods are being used to strip voter rolls—as in Ohio, where 1.1 million citizens have been purged from registration lists since 2009. This “New Jim Crow”—personified by groups like True the Vote (New York Times Article)—could deny the ballot to a substantial percentage of the electorate in key swing states.

This massive disenfranchisement has evoked a strong reaction from voting rights activists, a number of lawsuits, major internet traffic and front page and editorial coverage in the New York Times.

But there has been no parallel campaign to guarantee those votes are properly counted once cast. Despite serious problems with electronic tabulations in the presidential elections of both 2000 and 2004, electronic voting machines have spread further throughout the country. In Ohio, former Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell awarded a no-bid state contract to GovTech—a well-connected Republican-owned company which no longer exists—to help count Ohio’s vote. GovTech contracted with two equally partisan Republican companies: Smartech for servers and Triad for IT support (Push and Pray Voting).

Electronic voting machines with ties to Republican-connected companies have proliferated throughout Ohio. Federal money from the Help America Vote Act has helped move electronic voting machines into other key swing states in substantial numbers that are not easy to track.

The machines can quickly tabulate a winner. But their dark side is simple: there is no way to monitor or double-check the final tally. These partisan Republican vote counting companies have written contracts to avoid transparency and open records laws.

American courts have consistently ruled that the hardware and software used in e-voting machines is proprietary. For example, California’s Public Records Act (CPRA) contains a Trade Secret Exemption. The courts in California apply a “balancing test” to determine whether the Trade Secret Exemption applies, but the contracts with voting machine vendors are written in such a way that the court usually has no other choice but to side with the vendors and the state and county election officials who inked the contract. High priced attorneys like Daniel McMillan of the Jones Day firm are often hired to “clarify” the law for the court.

In a filing with the Voting Systems Procedures Panel of the California Secretary of State’s office during the 2004 election, McMillan hammered out a “Stipulated Confidentiality Agreement” that states in part that a public records request by a voting activist “contain[s] confidential proprietary or trade secret information” and thus, is not a public record.

Also that year, McMillan showed up in Georgia on behalf of the infamous Diebold Election Systems company and invoked the Peach State’s Trade Secret Exemption to the open record law. McMillan wrote: “If information constitutes a trade secret under the Georgia Trade Secrets Act, the government agency in custody of the information has a duty to protect the information” from public scrutiny.

McMillan goes on to argue that there’s also a Computer Software Exclusion that, “To the extent that any request is made for Diebold’s computer program or software, such a request would not be a valid request for a public record.” Diebold’s attorney cited the concern that “…it makes it easier to sabotage and hack the system and circumvent security features” if there’s transparency.

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Four Ways Ohio Republicans are Already Stealing the 2012 Election

9:43 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

I VOTED TODAY

(Photo: williac/flickr)

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman
August 23, 2012

The Ohio Republican Party has moved four ways to steal America’s 2012 election.  The Buckeye State is almost certain to emerge as a decider in this year’s presidential election, and the GOP is moving fast to ensure victory, no matter what it takes.

The strategy reflects much of what was done by the Republicans in 2000 and 2004 to steal those presidential elections for George W. Bush, as we report in the newly published WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION? (now at www.harveywasserman.ning.com and soon at www.freepress.org).

If they get away with it, the Ohio GOP could make it virtually impossible for Barack Obama to carry Ohio this November. In the years since Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, the Democratic Party has made little headway in reforming our electoral system to make such thefts impossible:

1. Since 2009, the Ohio GOP has purged some 1.25 million citizens from the state’s voter rolls. This accounts for more than 20% of the roughly 5.2 million votes counted for president in the state in 2008. The purge focusses on counties that are predominantly urban and Democratic.  ( http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/3/2012/1927 )

2. Electronic voting machines have been installed throughout the state which are owned, operated, programmed and maintained — and will be tallied—by Republican-connected firms, including Diebold (now Premier), ES&S and Triad. ( http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/3/2012/1925 )

3.  The GOP controls both houses of the Ohio Legislature, the governorship, the secretary of state’s office, and the state supreme court.  Soon after the 2008 election, it imposed a draconian photo ID law designed to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of suspected Democrats, as is being done throughout the US.  But Ohio is a referendum state.  A statewide grassroots movement recently crushed a GOP-pushed anti-labor law, and many Republicans feared the photo ID law would also go down.  Then Husted was ruled ineligible to hold office over a residency conflict.  Ohio’s Supreme Court re-instated his eligibility, but he was prompted to oppose the photo ID law.  Today a prospective Ohio voter can use 17 different kinds of ID, but in recent elections some poll workers have demanded photo ID anyway.  Without a grassroots army of independent election monitors to protect them, many more Ohioans are likely to be disenfranchised.

4.  In 2004, 10.6% of the votes cast in Ohio were so-called “early votes” via absentee ballots. A voter had to be absent from the county to vote absentee. In-person Election Day voters at the 42 predominantly black inner-city precincts in Columbus waited between 3-7 hours to vote.

In 2005, Ohio election law was modified so absentees could vote without actually being absent from their home county. When Ohio went for Barack Obama with 52% of the vote, early voting nearly tripled to 29.7%. This included voters able to vote in person at locations all over the state for 35 days prior to Election Day, including on weekends.

This summer the Ohio GOP attempted to allow Republican Counties to use weekend voting, while denying the right to counties that are predominantly Democratic.  By banning all voting the weekend before the election, Husted took credit for “leveling the playing field.”  But African-American State Representative Charleta Tavares immediately charged that the exclusion of weekend voting represented a deliberate attempt to suppress Democratic voters, and particularly black voters who voted 95% for Obama in 2008.

On Friday, August 17, while some 500 Ohioans protested outside his office, Husted suspended Democratic Montgomery County Board of Election members Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie, Sr. because they introduced and supported—and then refused to rescind—a motion for weekend voting.

Lieberman told the Dayton Daily News that, “I believe that this is so critical to our freedom in America . . . that I’m doing what I think is right, and I cannot vote to rescind this motion.” Lieberman also argued that the directive did not specifically prohibit weekend hours.

The Ohio Association of Election Officials, overwhelmingly dominated by Republicans from Ohio’s rural counties, endorsed the idea of cutting the final three early voting days. They argued that they needed the extra time over the weekend to prepare for Election Day, although some of the counties have very small voting populations compared to the nine urban counties that support keeping the three final early voting days.   Doug Priesse, Chair of the Franklin County (Columbus) GOP, sparked a firestorm when he explained that   “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.”

The Obama campaign has sued, arguing that weekend voting be restored for all Ohioans, as it has been for members of the military.  The GOP has charged Obama with trying to deny those in the military their right to vote, which would be impossible for him to do.  Husted and GOP Attorney-General Mike DeWine responded with a suit saying:  ”There is no fundamental right to in-person early voting.”

By purging registration lists, limiting voting times, messing with voter ID requirements and controlling electronic voting machines, the GOP has a huge leg up on winning what has often been America’s key swing state.

Clearly the Ohio GOP is once again geared up to deny the vote—and vote count—to as many Democrats as it can.  If it succeeds, as it did in 2004, Barack Obama stands little chance of being re-elected.


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman’s new WILL THE GOP STEAL AMERICA’S 2012 ELECTION?, introduced by Greg Palast, is a $4.99 e-book now at www.harveywasserman.ning.com  and soon at www.freepress.org.